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Research Process Journal

Artists Strategies

Artists Strategies reflects on methods used by contemporary artists in public strategies, whether it is working in public spaces, various communities or in different art forms. Discussions here will allow me to reflect on how this has an impact on the curatorial processes of cities and how these relationships works together towards curating cities.

Thinking back to the Magic of the Laneways Commissions

Tuesday 15 May, 2018

When I first arrived in Melbourne in 2008, I had the impression there was something magical about the central urban environment. Perhaps it was those short visits in previous years when everything seemed new and full of creative possibility, which led me to have this impression. I still love the city, even with the constant noise of construction. The city is in transition with building works on every corner, we are experiencing the growing pains of population growth. I was walking down Swanston Street this morning and I looked out for all the social places I used to go to with friends, most of them had closed or had been replaced with new businesses and some of the buildings have even been demolished, the relaxed Melbourne I remember is slowly disappearing as property increases with value and space becomes contested. 

The other day when I was thinking about this idea of the expanded project of 'The Right to the City', it reminded me of the discovery of artists works in the back lanes of Melbourne, which gave some mysterious insight into the intimate thoughts of individuals. These moments of connecting with the personal in the impersonal built environment certainly left an impression on me. It made me feel there was some hope left for the romantic in this functional and calculated world where little is left to chance. I later found out that these works were part of the City of Melbourne's Laneways Commission program which lasted from 2001-2009. Sadly looking it up on line, it no longer exists on the CoM's website and now can only be found as an entry on the E-Melbourne website, which at least is recorded. I'm glad I've kept my catalogues from these projects. I loved the way the program was interventionist in style and responded to the sites they were located in. My first encounter was with appropriated street signs, which displayed philosophical thoughts in a lane off Little Bourke Street, a work by Evangelos Sakaris, commissioned in 2001-2 (image on the left). The reason why I was reflecting on works I encountered in this program, was that the works represented the voice of an individual and that one voice for me still held power, even in this rambling and hectic city. It reminded me that magic in our lives is still possible and that artists have that capacity to inspire us by showing us an alternative possibilities. 

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